Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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THE FRENCH FLUTE (1920-1930) Music by Duruflé, Rhené-Baton, Hahn, Ropartz, Gallon Bent Larsen (flute), Lars Grunth (viola), Sverre Larsen (piano), rec Tivoli, Copenhagen, Denmark, 30-31 March 1996 , CLASSICO CLASSCD 160 [58.51]



The Duruflé Prélude, Récitatif and Variations, an early work, is for the complete trio. The sea seems to have played a strong part in its inspiration and a certain marine urgency infuses its pages. The uncannily Baxian viola part is strongly conveyed. A waywardly emotional tune is but one of the plums in this tripartite piece - intense and varied in mood. The finale has chattering harp arpeggiation; not at all a piece for languishing fauns!

Noel Gallon is a name completely unknown to me. His four movement suite comprises a Mediterranean Syrinx-like Sérénade (had the composer heard Rachmaninov's second symphony, I wonder?), a jauntily charming Vif, an easygoing Nocturne and an optimistic Danse. The whole suite is treasurable and well worth the recitalist's attention as well as Classic FM for excerpting purposes. Later comes his musingly sad Improvisation et Rondo for flute and piano.

There are two pieces by Rhené-Baton (1879-1940) better known as a conductor. Passacaille is a thoughtful meander in a style influenced by Ravel - very imaginative! The Bourrée is a country dance which relaxes into a contented bask in the sun; drowsing not sleeping.

Reynaldo Hahn is better known (if at all) for his songs and by some for his piano concerto recorded by Hyperion and EMI. His Romanesque is like a medieval chant, rippling and flowing attractively in antique style.

The last three tracks are given over to Ropartz's Sonatine. The Très Moderé is thoughtful, Très lent a brimming reflective rock pool and the final Assez vif is lively with its closing pages tumultuous with 'pealing bells'.

Larsen has recorded eight other flute CDs for ClassicO.

In common with the three ClassicO volumes of French orchestral CDs this one carries a surreal Dali-esque painting by the Antibes-based artist, Giovanni Pelliciolli. The leaflet, two pages of English-only notes translated by Mary Sorensen, give the bare bones of background on some of the pieces.

All but the Duruflé and Hahn (which add a viola to the usual duo) are for flute and piano.

This is a by no means bland collection with some unpredictable elements for those, like me, who had decided what this disc was going to sound like long before they heard it.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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